In one of I Love Lucy episodes from Season 1 Ricky puts Lucy on a schedule to teach her better time management. She gets attacked by other women for getting along with this idea. "What are you doing to wives of America?" inquires one of them. "We spent years telling our husbands we just don't have time to do it all!"
Nowadays women appear proud to be able to do it all: working, housekeeping, child care, gourmet cooking, yoga classes, you name it. Of course, if you are fully employed, domestic life will necessarily suffer, but a modern woman is supposed to juggle all these responsibilities with ease.
And what if she doesn't work outside home? Then she still needs to be engaged in all sorts of activities, just for the sake of it. Homeschooling, home business, volunteering, ministries, numerous Bible classes...Heaven forbid someone will catch her sitting in the garden with her feet up reading a book - after all, she's supposed to be a Proverbs 31 lady and never have a minute of rest.
Mid-20th century wives took their time to do things. They were proud to look well, to cook delicious meals and to keep house but they apparently didn't feel the urge to be superwomen and could always find time for a cup of tea with their neighbour or for some gossiping on the phone with a girlfriend.
They combined creative housekeeping with leisure and didn't try to recreate an assembly line working patterns in their households. The true meaning of Proverbs 31 wasn't discovered yet and the wives of America (and other countries) didn't have to be examples of efficiency.
The manuals for women on how to cram more hours in your day weren't written yet.
UPDATE: For more information, read this:
Homemaking Is Real Work And Real Ministry